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PHOTOS: Black Lives Matter March Against Hate

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Watch a livestream video below of the first part of the event.

This past Sunday a Black Lives Matter rally and march began at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and wound its way to the BELIEVE sculpture downtown. The event was partially in response to the actions of the UNR student who attended the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

That, and the response given by UNR President Marc Johnson, who was criticized for not expelling the student to further condemn the racist overtones of the Charlottesville protest.

The event can be broken down into three sections: the rally in front of the UNR Joe Crowley Student Union, the march down south Virginia, and the rally held in front of the BELIEVE sculpture at City Plaza.

University of Nevada, Reno

blm-zoom-6-of-20-200x300-9944565-5761745UNR and the Reno Police Department (RPD) had a heavy, but distant, presence. The access roads were entirely blocked off with patrol vehicles. While most officers wore standard uniforms, other unmarked vehicles contained fully equipped response teams in military style uniforms and equipment, as well as what appeared to be a police helicopter flying overhead. This level of police presence would be maintained throughout the event.

Activists, students, alumni, and other Reno residents gathered around a stage with the crowd, which grew into the hundreds. Elen Valdés gave the group a rundown of the evenings plans and introduced the speakers, after she talked about her own experience of dealing with racism. She told the crowd on her first day of school in Reno was told that RENO stood for, “Run Every Nigger Out.” The audience simultaneously booed at the acronym and showed sympathy to Valdés.

Another spoke about how he believes the system is built to be racist, including the U.S. government and capitalism. He told the audience, tearing up at moments, that it could take revolution to change the system from being racist and that capitalism had to be destroyed. At times the audience was so loud in their support the cheers reverberated off the surrounding buildings.

Patricia Gallimore of the NAACP spoke with equal passion, emphasizing how “blacks have only had civil rights since 1965.” She reiterated this, explaining that that means that blacks have only been recognized as humans since that time by the U.S. government.

After a musical piece by Elen Valdés the group prepared to march down south Virginia.

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March on Virginia Street

The march began down Virginia Street with RPD forming a moving wall of bicycle and motorcycle officers keeping the march to the west side of Virginia. Marchers chanted throughout the march. Some first-year university students stood on sidewalks unsure of what was happening while others ran to join the march. By the time the march had reached downtown it had gained a few extra marchers. Tourists and locals came out of the casinos to see what the noise was, most taking videos or photos with their smart phones.

I witnessed only one altercation where police needed to step in. A seemingly troubled individual began flipping off the marchers and rambling incoherently. Most of the marchers ignored him and march officials and two police quickly ended the issue.

The BELIEVE sculpture

blm-zoom-17-of-20-300x200-5896722-2103150Unfortunately, technical issues with the speaker system prevented the second set of speakers from being heard much past the front row of people and many rally participants decided to mingle and discuss the issues among themselves.

One speaker was unique in that they were one of the individuals hospitalized in the Columbus day native American March.

She strongly criticized Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, for her comments at the Charlottesville vigil. She told the crowd that the Mayor said something like Charlottesville couldn’t happen in Reno because it’s not a racist town. The audience laughed and booed the name of Hillary Schieve.

The woman continued by explaining the trauma of the Columbus Day violence and how the owner of the truck that ran her over had not received jail time. The crowd yelled and booed, with some raising their middle fingers to city government buildings. Soon after, the crowd began dispersing into to the late evening, still discussing their frustrations.

Ty O'Neil
Ty O'Neil
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.

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